Any mark that is present on the skin at birth or develops soon afterwards is called a birthmark.

While most of them are harmless and fade off as the child grows, occasionally some birthmarks may be sign of bigger problems and diseases.

While every child and every birthmark is different, as a parent it is important to learn about your child’s birthmark. What kind of birthmark is it? Is it purely cosmetic, or is it a part of a greater problem?

What causes birthmarks?

Birthmarks are usually an overgrowth of fine blood vessels or of pigment (color) cells.

In contrast to popular beliefs, stress or traumatic emotional experiences during pregnancy do not lead to birthmarks.

The most common cause of birthmarks are developmental defects. Developmental defects are errors in morphogenesis, arising mainly in intrauterine life and hence most are present at the time of birth.

Types of birthmarks

Birthmarks can broadly be divided into two forms;

  • Pigmented birthmarks
  • Red birthmarks

Pigmented birthmarks are commonly referred to as light tan spots. They are generally harmless and are called so because of their various shades of colors.

Whereas, red birthmarks or ‘capillary hemangioma’ are related to vasculardefine skin changes. These are caused by an over abundance of blood vessels at the site where they appear, either before or after birth.

While most birthmarks do not hurt and neither cause any kind of health problem – therefore they don’t require any treatment.

However, following warning signs should not be ignored;

  • Any birthmark located on the lower spine.
  • Sudden rapid increase in the size of the birthmark.
  • The appearance of satellite lesions (small lesions away from the main site of the birthmark).
  • Change in the color of birthmark.
  • Any change in the texture of the birthmark like scaling, erosion, ulceration, and induration within the mark.
  • Any notching and irregularity of the borders and edges of the mark.
  • Any bleeding or pulsations within the birthmark.
  • The appearance of sudden itching in the birthmark.